Happy New Year. As arbitrary Gregorian boundary conditions go, I've been really looking forward to the end of 2017. And as I've done in the past I'm posting a few thoughts from the year. (Previously: 2016, 2015, 2014, 2011.)
Though I know the machinations of U.S. politics and culture are not a primary concern for many people in the world, it felt like a year where I could not get out from under the dark cloud of the current presidential administration and the things we are naming and learning about ourselves as a society. I'm someone who usually follows news and politics closely, so it was tough to balance awareness, engagement, activism and appropriate amounts of anger with self-care, long-term thinking and finding any kind of focus or calm. I don't think I did very well with that process, and I've watched it take a toll on me, people I love and communities that I care about.
On top of that I spent a lot of time and energy this year accompanying my mom through her cancer treatment and related medical adventures; it was a source of always-present, low-level (and sometimes high-level) stress that was never too far in the background. I was of course always honored to bring care and support where it was needed, but it was hard watching her be consistently miserable while wondering when or how things could get better.
It was a year of incredible growth for our daughter, going from a barely walking toddler with a relatively small vocabulary to a whirlwind of a kid who runs through the house asking us hard questions, telling stories and expressing strong opinions. A day doesn't go by that I don't look at her in amazement, or that my wife and I aren't asking to each other, "did you know that she can do that??" Witnessing and participating in literal child-like wonder has been a special bit of grace in these times.
Oh yeah, and I turned 40.
All in all, it felt like my ability to focus and be fully present to much of anything was severely limited throughout the year. I hope 2018 is better and am taking some steps to make it so.
The year saw one of the bigger professional transitions in a little while as I moved to a new team in my work at Automattic. I spend much more of my time now creating and shipping things, and I've really enjoyed being back in the world of building software.
Last year in my year in reflections, I wrote that
I also feel more unsure than ever about the place that technology, software, politics and media/publishing have in making the world better, and so even though they're core subjects of this blog, it's been hard to feel excited about writing about them.
Unfortunately that trend continued this year (see above), and while I took some personal steps to reach clarity there (including leaving Facebook), I wasn't often able to publicly think or write my way through the uncertainty. I still think about it all the time and have a lot of drafts started. Maybe I'll finish some of them in 2018.
Travel and Fun
It was a relatively quiet year for travel. There were times when I craved more, but in general I was glad to have the time to settle in to our house after moving right at the beginning of the year.
Travel highlights included:
- Barcelona, Spain (again)
- Akumal, Mexico
- San Jose, CA (for Silicon Valley Comic Con)
- Chicago, IL (multiple trips)
- Denver, CO (for WordCamp for Publishers)
- Whistler, BC (for Automattic's all-company meet-up)
- Nashville, TN (for WordCamp US)
Most of that was flying but apparently I also drove 11,101 miles across 1,089 driving sessions.
Along the way I got to see some amazing performances, including Hamilton in Chicago and U2 on their Joshua Tree tour in Indianapolis. I also really enjoyed getting to see some of my favorite Star Trek actors in person.
The Year Ahead
I don't know what to hope for in 2018.
I need to figure out specific ways I can bring good to the world without being overwhelmed or distracted by all of the bad in the world.
I need to give the joys I do find more time to sink in and lift me up, and devote less energy to clever cynicism.
And I need to spend less time planning and more time doing.
I can barely think beyond those selfish items, so obviously I also need to restore some balance in my relationship to the rest of the world, too.
What was 2017 like for you? What's ahead?